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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Allen C. Goodman

Abstract

My dissertation consists of three essays in health economics. In the first essay, I use the matched data set constructed from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the Survey of Consumer Finances for period 1989-2010 to investigate the impacts of housing and financial wealth on healthcare spending. The results indicate significant housing and financial wealth effects and relatively large housing wealth effects for the pooled sample. Results for each survey years of the Survey of Consumer Finances further suggest that housing wealth effects are significant for all years and relatively large, but financial wealth effects are insignificant in most cases. Analysis by survey years also reveals the diminished housing wealth effect following the Great Recession. Moreover, the housing wealth effect is significant and most pronounced among older aged households and credit-constrained households. In general, the results are qualitatively similar when I use net wealth measure.

In the second essay, I investigate the relationship between local house prices and health and health behaviors of the individuals using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for 2001-2012, a period that includes both the housing boom and housing bust. I find evidence of positive relationship for poor mental health and binge drinking but negative association for physical health for those likely to be homeowners. However, among those likely to be renters, I document positive impact of house prices on body mass index but negative effect on physical health and smoking. The subgroup analysis also suggests substantial heterogeneity of the health effects across gender. Additionally, I show an asymmetry in the relationship between house prices and health. For example, the impact of house prices on binge drinking and physical activity are relatively large during the housing bust period.

In the third essay, I examine the impacts of the public health insurance eligibility during childhood on longer-term financial outcomes. Exploiting the variation provided by the Medicaid expansions that took place in the 1980's and 1990's and applying the simulated eligibility instrumental variables approach, I show that Medicaid eligibility during childhood increases homeownership rate, mortgage ownership rate, and financial market participation rate later in life. This finding is robust to only use of variation provided by federal Medicaid expansions.

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